The Battle of Hampton Roads, better known as the Battle of the Ironclads, is probably the most noted naval battle of the Civil War. The meeting of two ironclad warships, the CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor, showed the benefits of armored ships compared to the wooden-hulled craft that had been the mainstays of navies around the world.
The battle began on March 8, 1862 when the Confederate ship CSS Virginia and supporting ships attacked the Union blockade at Norfolk, Virginia in an attempt to break through. The Virginia easily outclassed the wooden-hulled Union ships, and sunk two and ran aground a third (the USS Minnesota), before ending the battle when darkness fell. The commander of the Virginia planned to return the next day, but unbeknownst to him, overnight the Union ironclad USS Monitor had arrived to protect the aground ship and hold the Union blockade.
The next day, the ironclads met - they fought for 3 hours, while both were able to land hits on the other, neither was able to sink or disable their opponent. The battle ended in a draw, the CSS Virginia returned to her home at Gosport Naval Yard, while the Monitor remained on station guarding the Minnesota and the blockade. While the two ironclads never again fought, once news of this engagement reached Europe other preeminent naval powers halted the building of wooden ships, instead using the design principles of the ironclads (especially the USS Monitor) as models.
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